The June Black and Brown Belt Course was held in Nottingham on the 4th and allowed students the opportunity to further much of their karate knowledge in sessions which delved deeper into technique, kumite development and officiating. Alan Campbell Sensei 7th Dan, Head of JKS England welcomed the karateka to the dojo and reminded students why aspects covered in all parts of these sessions are vital for progression.
A warmup was used to focus the mind and ready the body for training. This helped to highlight areas where flexibility or mobility warrant additional attention and ensure students were fully prepared for anything asked of them as Alan Sensei began the class.
Students were paired together and started with press ups and crunches to activate the muscle groups which would be at the core of the early part of the lesson. Choku-tsuki punches were delivered first from a relaxed standing position, so as not to lose any of the concentration to stance. Alan Sensei advised how many aspects of even the simplest techniques command an awareness of what is being done, how and why, urging that if this accountability is present then improvement will be much faster if these questions can be answered. Students were guided in how to use effective hip action to punch, connecting through the core, then onto and straight through the target with the fist. Relaxation, joint power, and mobility were also all mentioned to underscore the rest of the lesson’s valuable content.
Gyaku-tsuki and kizami-tsuki attacks were then linked to generate more forwards momentum. Students were instructed to anticipate contact with their partner and on how to maximise the force generated whilst maintaining a safe body alignment. The class was reminded of how students must have diligent thought on correct technique, especially when no partner, pad or bag is present to give feedback. Identifying this as a weakness in practice, Alan Sensei reiterated this crucial information throughout the session to reinforce its significance.
As this critical thinking shifted on to kicking, mawashi-geri became the technique with which students were to practice and appreciate the difference of hitting on or through a target. Working to a height where students were able to execute proper form, partners helped the attacking student to visualise the difference in the result of the technique when contact was made. Grouping into threes then allowed students to develop their technique with feedback given to encourage and rectify any deficiencies within their kick. The class then mimicked the same measured and specific training with yoko-geri. Supported by Alan Sensei to sustain a stable base and good posture, the similarities and differences with the mawashi-geri done immediately before were illuminated and explained.
Alan Sensei then demonstrated the respective release points for both kicks. Releasing the chambered leg at the appropriate time, accelerating towards the target, and observing the guidance already given in the lesson so far gave students a lot to consider. In order to deliver a powerful and efficient kick, students had to keep this focus and work to co-ordinate and time the ideal hip action. Alan Sensei gave students the chance to understand where the release and rotation need to be completed concurrently for mawashi-geri, instead of being separated to ensure maximum kicking power without and stop points. This section of the class finished with a look at how the yoko-geri pivot functions as the knee is squeezed up along the correct kicking path, representing a parallel to the mawashi-geri. Students then would need to operate in a similar fashion for the yoko-geri preparation as the squeeze and release were brought together to increase the potential for kime at the point of contact, rather than compartmentalising the kick into isolated and therefore restricting the fluidity of movement.
A short break was then followed by an in-depth walkthrough of the kata Kanku-Dai. Emphasizing the correct way to turn on the foot at each relevant transition and where hip rotation is required, Alan Sensei provided a manual for the kata. This enabled students to link the sequences learned first in the Heian katas whilst carrying over the technical points made beforehand in the class. Students worked up to full speed, attempting to bring everything together with good timing, stances, relaxation and power. Alan Sensei had delivered a class, where precision in both thought and technique was required and where students adhered to this, significant improvement was made with even greater results to come as students recreate the lesson’s principles back in their home dojos.
The class resumed after a breather and quick drink, splitting into both kumite and referee development sections. Geoff Dixon Sensei 6th Dan JKS, Head of the Judge and Referee Development Programme ran through several rule changes and clarified where the responsibilities lie within the delivery of this rule set.
A concise look was then taken at the signals used and the requirement of the officials to need to interpret these accurately and quickly to keep a competition environment running smoothly and efficiently. Geoff Sensei was always happy to answer any questions and offered transparency to the responses given.
These signals were then practiced in small groups with pre-arranged scenarios. This allowed everyone to increase their confidence by identifying the proper reaction required and then performing the appropriate gesture.
Matt Price Sensei 6th Dan, JKS England Squad Coach was taking the kumite section concurrently and working a number of sparring and competition focused drills. Beginning with intense tag, students cycled through training exercises to touch mitts and manage distance control which would soon be expanded upon. Matt Sensei explained thoroughly the concept of distance and how having a variety of techniques and combinations which can be delivered from various ranges extends the options and opportunities which a karateka has in combat. Trading 1-for-1 kicks and punches, students had the chance to explore the ranges mentioned and what could be accomplished.
The intensity increased throughout Matt Sensei’s session as students understood the benefits of being able to operate effectively at the extremes of distance and how manipulating this meant a better chance of kumite success. To take advantage of both section’s exploits, the referee and kumite groups were brought together to enable practice in an environment more akin to a competitive arena. Feedback to the competitors and for the wider group to widen their knowledge base was given by Matt and Geoff Sensei when the situation merited input. A great atmosphere from start to finish and great teamwork at the end capped another fantastic course which addressed many nuances and subtleties for students to improve on in their practice moving forwards.